King Mswati III of Eswatini addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly at the United Nations headquarters. File picture: Frank Franklin II/AP

Johannesburg – Eswatini King Mswati III has violated his country’s constitution with the appointment of new Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamini, US ambassador Lisa Peterson said.

Peterson warned that the king's failure to uphold his country's constitution could affect the amount of development aid from the US to Swaziland in future. 

“Section 67 of the constitution says the King must appoint the premier from among members of the House of Assembly but Dlamini is not a member. He was not elected by the people," Eswatini political commentator, Richard Rooney said.

"The king also appoints ten members of the House of Assembly but did not give Dlamini a place," the Swazimedia.blogspot's Rooney said. 

Rooney said the appointment was a clear breach of the constitution. 

King Mswati has a firm grip on power in his kingdom. At the election on 21 September 2018, his subjects were only allowed to select 59 members of the House of Assembly, the king appointed a further 10. Political parties were banned from taking part, Rooney added. 

None of the 30 members of the Swazi Senate are elected by the people; the House elects 10 and the king appoints 20. After the election, the king appointed six members of his own family to the House of Assembly and eight to the Senate. 

The king also chooses government ministers and top civil servants and judges. 

Peterson slammed Mswati’s failure to follow his country’s constitution in an article in the Swazi media, saying that the appointments disregarded explicit provisions in the constitution. 

She was particularly perturbed by the negative impact on women as according to the constitution at least half of those appointed to the House of Assembly should be women. 

“Out of 10 appointees to the house, only three were women. In the senate only seven women were appointed. These shortfalls show that gender equity is not a priority for the country’s most senior officials, which means that it will not be a priority for many others in Eswatini’s male-dominated leadership,” Peterson said. 

African News Agency (ANA)